At the age of 38, Mark O'Brien, a man who uses an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and his priest, he contacts Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a professional sex surrogate and a typical soccer mom with a house, a mortgage and a husband. Inspired by a true story, The Sessions, follows the fascinating relationship which evolves between Cheryl and Mark as she takes him on his journey to manhood. Written by
Actor John Hawkes had to use a cushion under one side of his back in order for him to have the look of Mark O'Brien's arched and distorted spine. See more »
Rhea Perlman's name is misspelled (Pearlman) in the end credits. See more »
Himself - Reporter:
Mark O'Brien has been going to UC Berkley since 1978. That's O'Brien in the motorized gurney heading for class last week. He had polio when he was six years old. The disease left his body crippled, but his mind remained sharp and alert. And since he wanted to be a writer, Mark O'Brien entered Cal to major in English and learn his trade. He wrote this poem for us about school here and about graduation.
Graduation. Today I hear the crowd's applause. Receive the congratulations from ...
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Will Make You Laugh, Cry and Look at Life More Positively
The Sessions tells the inspirational true story of Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a poet/journalist who has an iron lung and is paralyzed from the neck down due to polio. At age 36 he decides to finally lose his virginity and with the support of his friend/priest (William H. Macy) hires a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt).
John Hawkes (Winter's Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) has been gathering accolades for his performance in The Sessions and with good reason. He not only delivers on the physical demands of such a role but he manages to encapsulate the emotions of a man with a broken body but a good heart. It's an impressive performance that should see him at least receive an Oscar nomination come next years awards. Hawkes is almost matched by Helen Hunt. She bares all in a brave role that depicts a woman struggling with her job and her emotions. These two performances are some of the best (so far) this year. William H. Macy also gives a good performance as a likable priest that O'Brien is able to confide in.
As a whole, the film doesn't shy away from much. The sex "therapy" sessions are depicted as realistically as possible and are both funny and touching (no pun intended). Ben Lewin's direction is simple yet it manages to adequately depict O'Brien's world without sensationalizing it. It's an all round simple tale that is well told. This is an adult drama that will make you laugh, cry and look more positively at your own life. There aren't many films that do that these days.
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